Crime

Richland rape case goes to jury

A former Richland apartment maintenance worker admitted he lied to police about what he did the night a woman was attacked and raped in her apartment, but denied assaulting her.

Cody Joseph Kloepper, 33, took the stand Friday morning as one of two witnesses called by the defense.

Kloepper, who worked at The Villas at Meadows Springs in December 2009 when the then-48-year-old woman was brutally attacked, is accused of using a key from the apartment manager's office to let himself into the victim's fourth-floor unit.

He is charged in Benton County Superior Court with first-degree rape, assault and burglary while armed with a deadly weapon.

The victim was beaten so badly with a metal bar that she needed 43 stitches in her head and suffered a shattered arm and broken wrist.

Kloepper's trial began Monday with jury selection, and jurors got the case Friday afternoon. They deliberated about 30 minutes before leaving for the day. The six men and six women will return to the courthouse Monday.

Kloepper, who has a two sons, ages 7 and 9, and a girlfriend he considers his common-law wife, testified Friday that he lied to Richland police during two interviews because he was embarrassed about what he did.

He said he told detectives he followed a friend home from a bar then spent the night at the Gage Boulevard apartments.

"The truth is I went home and got on the computer and I did look at personal ads on Craigslist and did go out to Finley," he said.

Kloepper met a man through an ad on Craigslist and said that at first, they talked for a little about family and then had oral sex. "After that ... I was pretty much disgusted with myself," he said.

The man from the ad, however, testified earlier this week that he rejected Kloepper's advances because Kloepper reeked of cigarette smoke and alcohol.

Prosecutors suggested that the man, who now lives in Florida, had no reason to voluntarily fly to Washington to testify in the case, admit to trying to arrange a sexual encounter with a man and then lie about turning Kloepper down.

Kloepper testified that after the encounter he left Finley, went to The Villas and slept on a drop cloth in a vacant apartment he had been repairing. He said he stayed there so that if he overslept, no one would know he wasn't at work on time.

Kloepper, who was interviewed by police in December and again in May, stuck to his story about simply following his friend home then going to the apartment complex. He provided a written statement that he signed as being the truth.

"That statement that you were truthful, wasn't truthful?" asked Deputy Prosecutor Terry Bloor.

"No, it was not truthful," Kloepper replied.

Investigators discovered computer and cellphone records that showed Kloepper has been looking for a sexual encounter with another man. Kloepper testified he didn't tell them about that because he didn't want his girlfriend to find out.

"You have to understand how embarrassing that was," Kloepper said.

Kloepper admitted he was at The Villas after hours and that he used his work keys to access a lock box in the manager's office -- where the keys to the 286 units are kept.

But, he denied taking the key to the victim's apartment and said he took a key to let himself into a unit in the D building.

"When you got back to The Villas, did you go to (the victim's) house?" asked defense attorney Dan Arnold.

"No," Kloepper replied.

"Did you assault her?" Arnold asked.

"No," Kloepper said.

During closing arguments, Arnold told jurors that his client lied about only one thing -- the sexual encounter -- and the lie was to cover up something embarrassing.

He said Kloepper was cooperative with investigators -- he drove himself to the police station twice to be interviewed -- and stayed in town even after police told him he was a suspect.

Arnold questioned why the victim didn't mention her attacker reeked of alcohol and tobacco when that's what the man in Finley said turned him off. He also wondered why she didn't identify Kloepper as the suspect when she knew who he was, and why she initially identified another man as her attacker until DNA cleared him.

"All of these ... certainly add up to reasonable doubt," he said.

Bloor and Deputy Prosecutor Kristin McRoberts admitted to jurors that the victim initially misidentification her attacker, but said she was brutally beaten on her head and terrified.

They said the evidence still proves Kloepper was the attacker: He lied repeatedly; he was looking for a random sexual encounter and ended up at The Villas at 4 a.m.; he was there without authority; he entered the manager's office and got into the key box; he had access to the victim's key; and his DNA ended up in the victim's apartment.

"I ask you to consider all the evidence and do the right thing," Bloor said.

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